Dropping Oliech welcomes us all to Amrouche’s unexplored world

Kenya approaches the second leg of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations first round qualifications desperate to avoid elimination more than ever. It might not seem so going into this game with a 1-0 advantage, however the margin’s minimal.

Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee- the man largely responsible for Kenya’s last exploits at the continental stage – is no longer in charge of the Harambee Stars (he is however at a higher level), with Algerian Adel Amrouche now in the hot seat.

However, will the 46 year old be able to succeed where a decuple of other coaches have failed?

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Unlike his predecessor (forget Nandwa), Henri, a widely travelled man- Amrouche’s mileage all over Africa isn’t anything to talk about but something to admire over the little span of time. Yet, the respect the squad Henri commanded was outweighed by egos of certain individuals.

The decision to omit Dennis Oliech (ahead of Comoros) for something the media has well documented as ‘unprofessional and disrespectful’ has been coming some time now, bad for him it’s come at another critical time.

For starts, let’s applaud Amrouche for trying to construct a squad in his own image, without having to sacrifice too much in the way of quality. This move goes a long way in rubber stamping his ambition to have a team modelled in the mentality of his own- with more of interest in collective success rather than that of individual without showing a dislike the latter.

Basically in Amrouche’s world skewing on matters progress- when it comes to the National team, the world has only one time zone- Harambee Stars GMT.

Dennis being the oldest member of the squad however must learn this in haste.

….if one does not come for training, he simply can’t play it doesn’t matter who you are and it’s not because you have a name, all the players are also good.

It therefore must be this reason why, while in the past a player in the model of Wanyama and Mariga would have bullied their way into being the ‘head of the pack’, they now just act the pack. The former holds the arm band even as the injury concerns of the latter seem to have perfectly played into Amrouche’s hands considering the growing tension that once was present between Mariga and Oliech.

When he planned on pulling out Oliech with the Harambee Stars on the edge of a memorable 1-0 win in Calabar, many of us thought “What the hell is this man up to.”

Sent off to the stands and a right decision made at the horrible time by his assistant saw Nigeria equalize. Satisfied by the result and discontent at the referee; Amrouche had just sowed the seeds of discrete decision-making going into the future.

Months have since passed and the realisation that Amrouche is not going to be toyed around with has brought results in good measure. A CECAFA trophy to his name, Amrouche doesn’t look like someone satisfied with just that, forgive his employers who are certainly not his cash bank like expected. (don’t worry how he makes his money)

With the dropping of Oliech amongst other firm stances Amrouche has made in the past (all which we don’t agree with), it’s absolutely possible to see why failure to qualify for the 2015 AFCON will see him labelled in the same light as his predecessors. The absolute turn however is- a qualification means, the man with the toughest job under horrendous circumstances certainly becomes the hero.

And that’s the shame in being Amrouche at this moment in time.

“Many distractions are avoided by living a simple life.” Herm Edwards one of NFL’s most successful cornerbacks, coaches and man behind ‘The Miracle of the Meadowlands’ noted in one of his many ESPN FC analysis, Amrouche certainly either in ignorance or arrogance must have been a good student of him.

Image credits, www.goal.com

Is the Kenyan Footballers dream valid too?

Stopping for a chat on the red Carpet earlier last week at the Grammys, Sir Alex Ferguson revealed he chatted Lupita Nyongo before the material night at Beverly Hills and wished her all the best and yes, she won.

Many in this country will be happy at this and for the football folk; isn’t it not nice that even without signing Wanyama to the famous Red Devils, he supported the ‘Kenyan’ quest in another way?

LIVING THE DREAM; Victor Wanyama glides past Liverpool's Victor Moses. (image va www.squawka.com)

LIVING THE DREAM; Victor Wanyama glides past Liverpool’s Victor Moses. (image va www.squawka.com)

But that’s just for that, the main topic this past week in Kenya since the maiden Grammy win by Lupita has been the exploration of dreams in relation to validity of the same.

A line picked from her acceptance speech has not only made it to almost everyone’s mouth- it’s fast becoming a cliché for the young ones who dare to dream.

Like any other discipline in life, dreams make or break. Football in this essence has been a beneficiary of the same if not a victim.

The life of a Kenyan footballer has fast revolved but not as fast as compared to his counterparts in other parts of the world.

Today’s footballer dreams beyond this country, beyond the green grass that covers Nyayo Stadium, beyond the garden like pitch of Thika- his dream and visions lie deep in the realisation that it can be done, it must be done and needs to be done real fast.

Kenya’s current footballer dreams of a day when he will never have to worry about being dropped by a club even before his contract elapses. He can’t wait for the day his agent will have to negotiate on his behalf and not him being arm twisted by greedy club officials to sign on the dotted line.

This country’s soccer star, today has in sight; a day when he will never have to worry about his family’s welfare or his own welfare when his career is cut short by an injury.

We all wish for that day when irrespective of who you are, who you know and who you don’t- an agent/club will treat a player/coach right just because he/she understands it’s a profession.

I’m sure you and I can’t wait for that day when we all rise up and say enough is enough to hooliganism, non-accountability and nepotism that has constantly dogged our game.

But first allow me celebrate our little achievements; our little islands of success in the vast ocean of uncertainty, trials and errors.

Today’s footballer is proud he’s got a group of people to look up to who’ve gone and conquered the world whose origin is the same as his.

He has no reason to worry of not being exposed to the world; when not on TV, blogs and newspapers cover his every track.

Unlike his predecessor who depended on fans hand-outs and club fundraisings, he’s got a sponsor to run to if not broadcasting money to make sure he’s not hungry on a match day.

Like our star Lupita, this generation’s footballer too has a stage for world approval and a moment we all celebrate them. For every hard work there’s now a reward and with each passing year, the rewards get even better.

What then does the current footballer need to realise?

Like a star we are foreseeing him to be, he needs to realise there are never any shortcuts in this game. Hard work is irreplaceable, patience a virtue and attitude is key to getting to the top.

Evening glasses can be turned into evening classes, disappointments into stepping stones for success and critism into pillars of great comebacks.

Impossible is nothing they say, but only to those who’ve got the courage to pursue them. Sometimes believing Lupita may be hard, so take a look around- what do you see? Stars that’ve made it from just around us. Will the Wanyama’s, Oliech’s and Mariga’s of this world help us realise no matter where we come from, the Kenyan footballer’s dreams are valid.

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